Around-the-clock efforts to save animals fleeing raging Simon's Town fire
'We are heartbroken, but must continue to be there for them'
Dogs, cats, chickens, pigs and tortoises are among animals rescued as the battle to contain the fire at Simon's Town continues.
Disaster risk management spokesperson Charlotte Powell said about 97 households in Stonehaven Estate were evacuated overnight. Some residents of Scarborough were also evacuated. Most were able to leave the area without assistance.
The disaster management centre requested animal welfare groups to assist with evacuating animals to The Emma Animal Rescue Society (Tears) in Ocean View and the SPCA in Grassy Park.
“We have rescued 20 dogs, one cat, two chickens, 15 pigs and piglets, we have rescued tortoises. The situation is hectic. We are about to head out to search for wildlife — any injured or stressed wildlife,” said Jaque le Roux, nurse and spokesperson for the Animal Welfare Society of South Africa.
Le Roux said the damage caused by the fires, which started on Tuesday, was devastating.
“Unfortunately a lot of animals haven't made it due to these fires but we are hoping we can still get to the ones which are still alive and try to help them as much as we can.”
“There are donation options on our social media page. We are in desperate need, we don't know what the next few days are going to bring in, with wildlife coming in and medical costs we are going to run up,” he said.
“This is when animals are in a huge amount of distress, including baboons because they live on the mountains. Their homes have been burnt down so the baboons are also running in the Main Road.
“We are also pleading to members of the public to be cautious, slow down. There is wildlife trying to get down from the fire on the mountain.”
He asked homeowners staying near the mountains to put out water bowls with fresh water for any wildlife that comes down in search of water.
“They must not feed wildlife; if they can just put out water bowls.”
Le Roux said his team had a busy week.
“My members haven't had much rest, including myself. We've been 24 hours right through since the start. We are exhausted, we are drained, we are heartbroken because of what we are coming across, but we have to continue to be there for the animals. I have got a team of 10 under me that is out in the field.”
Powell said at this stage no further evacuations were necessary, but they were monitoring the situation closely. She advised residents in the fire-affected areas to keep doors and windows closed to mitigate the risk of smoke exposure.
“We are still receiving many calls about donations and refreshments for staff on the fire line. The donation drop-off point has moved to the Simon’s Town Hall in Main Road, next to the police station,” said Powell.
Gael Gray of Good Hope Gardens Nursery and Indigenous Plants said she is still shell-shocked.
“We are actually fine, we haven't lost any buildings but obviously businesses are affected. We run a nursery and we don't have any water at the moment. But otherwise we are OK.
“It's amazing we didn't suffer more damage because the flames were enormous and the wind was howling. My son has a few animals that seem to be OK, I don't know if he has found them all but those are the farm animals. All our dogs and cats are fine,” said Gray.
She was thankful damage was minimal.
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